While Algonquin, Killarney, and Mattawa may be famous for dramatic autumn hues, there are plenty of fantastic fall drives within a couple hours of Toronto. And along the way, you can check out great local restaurants and other autumn-themed activities.
Rolling hills, gushing waterfalls, and quaint towns make for an ideal road trip in Grey County. Start in Meaford, a charming down on Georgian Bay, home to Grandma Lambe, the famous produce market offering several kids of apples and apple pies for sale. Then in nearby Thornbury see the spectacle of thousands of salmon using a fish ladder to navigate the river.
Head south to Clarksburg, a tiny town possibly home to the most art galleries per person in Ontario. If you’re looking for extend your visit, take a detour to the Scenic Caves site boasting a suspension bridge with fabulous forest views.
Otherwise continue onto Epping Lookout which offers a more modest, but still charming view of the changing foliage. Then continue south to the quaint Kimberley General Store for a ginger milkshake and to browse local foodie wares.
When you’re ready for lunch, there are plenty of tasty options in Flesherton, including the much lauded Flying Spatula or its sister restaurant in nearby Eugenia.
Start at the Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, which offers a variety of hiking trails through caverns and to spectacular lookouts. The Village of Mono has the Mono Cliffs Inn, which offers great seasonal food served next to a cozy fireplace.
Next, stop in at the Hockley Valley Hotel and Spa. While the hotel is known for its skiing in the winter, the autumn is just as good a time to visit the onsite restaurants and spa. If you’re fans of the show Schitts Creek, head down Hockley Road to take a picture in front of the motel used for the exterior of the Rosebud Motel.
Once you’ve had your fill exploring the backroads around Hockley, take a short detour down to the Alton Mill Arts Centre, which offers an impressive array of artists studios and art programming. Also in Alton is the famous Millcroft Inn, which is a must-visit for dinner. Take in the tree-lined millpond and waterfall as you tuck into one of the best meals around.
Start in the charming town of Warkworth, with its gingerbread Victorian buildings, tree-lined streets, and lovely shops and bakeries.
Next up is perhaps the foliage highlight of the day: the spectacular 300-foot Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge with 360 views of the gorge and surrounding forest. Afterwards drop by nearby Campbellford for the Butter Tart Factory offering a variety of options from sweet to spicy to Skor.
Next, continue along the top of Rice Lake to the Elmhirst Resort. A great place for a family lunch and stroll along the waterfront, this country retreat is a long-standing local landmark. They can also arrange fall colour plane flights over the region.
If you prefer something more low-key for lunch, try Muddy’s BBQ in Keene, a true meat-lovers paradise – just be sure to bring a coat as seating is mostly outdoors. Also in Keene is Lang Pioneer Village, which offers an apple lover’s event in early October. Keene itself puts on an impressive pumpkinfest in late October with thousands of jack-o-lanterns in creative displays.
For engineering lovers, Lock 21 in Peterborough (the highest hydraulic lift in the world), is a must-visit destination no matter the season. Watch boats navigate this huge drop before heading back to Toronto.